With the Blazers suddenly unstoppable but hardly a tough ticket, Oregonian columnist John Canzano (above) channels the Mekons:

So where were you?

A vendor selling cotton candy looked around the arena, scanned the empty seats in the third quarter, and said, “How many games in a row do we have to win before people will come back?”

It’s today’s big question.

So how many?

Eight? Nine? Twenty in a row?

What’s it going to take?

The team deserves to know.

You’ve asked the Blazers to stop fighting dogs, and driving without licenses, and gesturing obscenely at fans, and generally embarrassing themselves, on a night-to-night basis. You’ve demanded that they flush players who are carrying concealed weapons and drag racing down Broadway. And you’ve punished this organization at the turnstiles for the mistakes it made in the treatment of its hard-working employees.

And it worked. The Blazers listened.

You got the attention of One Center Court in a way that no other fan base in the country has managed. You’ve forced the Blazers to walk the walk. You’ve caused a massive shift in philosophy. And right about now, as a fan, you need to ask yourself why you’re still staying away, if you even know.

Hmmmh. I can think of two reasons without trying very hard. For that matter, so can John Canzano.

First, there’s the team’s exclusive deal with Comcast Sports, which he wrote about six days ago.

Blazers fans want to watch Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge, and the rest of the young, vibrant team, develop. You’d be hard pressed to find much more than Comcast’s stranglehold on programming, and unfortunate injuries, as negatives this season. But I’m not sure fans are going to get over this one if it’s not resolved soon.

If you ask Comcast executives why the company hasn’t cut a deal with satellite providers such as DirecTV and Dish Network, they will tell you that they’re being reasonable with their offer, but they won’t divulge what that offer might be. And they call what’s happening here, “A normal part of the negotiation process,” but there’s something about the alienation of Blazers’ customers that feels abnormal.

Fans have no evidence that Comcast is negotiating in good faith. They have no evidence that the Blazers are pressing the sides to make a deal until the franchise decides to make a strong, focused public statement aimed at Comcast. And fans have no evidence that there will be a resolution any time soon, despite the assurances that everyone can win here.

And just last Friday came the news that team owner Paul Allen plans to sell the building’s naming rights. As Canzano readily admits, it’s almost quaint to get worked up about such things at this point in the history of sports, but certainly not in the “People’s Republic of Portland.”

The franchise has a chance to demonstrate to the world that it won’t sell out. That it realizes the existing arena name is a part of the franchise’s soul, and gives the citizens of Portland a strong sense of belonging. That it understands the Rose Garden helps create a positive image, and economic vibe for the region because it lodges itself, romantically, in the minds of people who have never been to Portland or a Blazers game.

It’s what Big Ben does for London.

What the franchise is going to realize as it attempts to sell the naming rights is that it’s compromising a tiny piece of itself. It’s selling out, just like everyone else. And I suspect, because of inconsistent regional visibility, and the string of lottery finishes, the potential windfall might not exceed the salary of a rookie player.

Hey, since everybody’s wishing that the name be local and non-corporate, I propose a short-term deal to kick things off: the Real Emotional Trash Rose Garden.

Update: “Streaking Blazers Rekindle Mania”